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The 303 Pre-Game: Preds vs. St. Louis…

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IN ORDER TO WIN

  • NASHVILLE: The first period. The Predators don’t necessarily need to score early but they need to keep the Blues from scoring early. Pekka Rinne played well against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night but was forced to settle for a shootout loss. If he can continue that strong play, Nashville should have no problem skating with their opponents tonight. You can look at the Blues’ goals-against average from 2011-12 all you want but the best individual goaltender in the building tonight will be in the Nashville crease. If he can live up to that billing — and he’ll have to with the talent St. Louis has — the Predators should be able keep the game close.
  • ST. LOUIS: The Blues just pounded the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, 6-0. After losing legendary Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and shipping Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks, Detroit’s blueline isn’t the power house it used to be but, let’s be honest, nobody expected a drubbing like that. Also, optimism surrounding the Blues and their chances at the Stanley Cup are probably the highest they’ve been in over a decade. Over-confidence could be a problem but, if they can keep that in check, they should be able to stay undefeated.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • NASHVILLE: Craig Smith. He was basically called out by Head Coach Barry Trotz on Saturday night. “I didn’t like his game at all,” Trotz told Josh Cooper of The Tennessean. Earlier in the press conference, he stated that “Some guys who didn’t have their a-game, got a wake up call. We’re not going to wait for guys to get their game back.” Can he rebound after a poor performance? He certainly has the talent to do so. He had a thunderous start to the season last year, posting 24 points in his first 31 games. In training camp last week, Smith looked bigger, stronger and, if you can believe it, faster than last year. His wrist shot appears to be more lethal too. He’s certainly a player to watch this season but it may take him some time to ramp up having not played since his eight-game cup of coffee with KalPa in October.
  • ST. LOUIS: Vladimir Tarasenko. Have you seen this kid?